Dashboard panel for RV

newb here... and I know this is asked different ways many times... thanks for your patience!

I have a small class A RV... and it has an immense dashboard. When our privacy shade is lowered, there is a space that is over 6' wide and most of it over 2 ' deep with a huge curved windshield over it. We boondock a lot, but I hate to run the engine and generator in quiet places, so I'd like to maximize that dashboard. What I'm looking for is a panel that can roll or fold into a reasonable bundle and that I can easily roll out on the dashboard without sharp corners or too much weight and plug into the (female) cigarette lighter ports on the dash. We'd use this when parked - like dry camping at Quartzite... but also in parking lots where an outdoor array would likely go missing...

Specific questions
1. Does such a panel exist? (specific references would be the most helpful...)

2. Is it worth it? Is the cost versus the output worth bothering with?


  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,212 admin
    Welcome to the forum.

    Is there anyway you can mount standard solar panels to the roof of the RV? I have even seen some installations where they use a few solar panels (on a metal structure) that fold out as a porch/awning.

    Just placing panels behind your windshield will probably kill 1/2 of the output. And flexible panels tend to be less efficient (and not too rugged sometimes).

    A few people may take several ~140 Watt full size (standard glass) panels and stake them out in the sun (staked because you don't want the wind blowing them over--Have to worry about theft too).

    In the end--What is a "useful" amount of power to you? How many Watt*Hours or AH @ xx Volts do you need?

    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • idiotheidiothe Registered Users Posts: 2
    Thanks for the reply, Bill. I know there is a lot of expertise about mounting roof panels - in fact, I purchased an older used RV some years back and on one of our trips was surprised by an angry driver cutting us off to stop us - only to learn that the small solar panel mounted on our AC had become a rectangular "frisbee" and sailed by inches from his windshield! So... mounting without damaging the waterproof integrity of the membrane roof can be done - but has to be done right.

    But I'm a handicapped guy, so I have great difficulty getting up onto my roof for routine maintenance and I'm not quite ready to launch into a full-fledged RV setup. I just looked at our unusually large dash and curtain setup... big curved front windshield with a vertical roll-down curtain for privacy that always leaves an almost 2' x 7' dash exposed... and the white curtain reflects back a lot of light, so that space is solar-hot even after passing through the windshield - and I thought the biggest easy to handle panel that I could just lay in place and plug into the dash would be a good way to dip a toe in the solar RV water.

    I know the term useful is vague. We travel for about 6 months of the year in the RV, with some vacations from our trip... storing it in various cities when we fly, like our annual month-long trip to Honduras. While it is stored, I'd love to have a trickle that would assure me of no dead chassis battery when I return. When we are boondocking in the desert, I'd like to have a quiet solar boost that would cut down on our dependence on running the RV engine and/or generator to recharge the batteries.

    So I was hoping somebody would say - "yup, there's a great rolled-up panel that is 18" x 5', has a simple regulator and car "cigarette-lighter" cord, that is rated at 40w and is reasonably durable." I do understand that it would also be nice to find some free-range unicorns in our travels...

  • dropkickdropkick Registered Users Posts: 23
    http://www.renogy-store.com/Renogy-50W-12V-Mono-Lightweight-Solar-Panel-p/rng-50db.htm One or more of these would fit on the dash. They also used to stock a 100W version which works very well. We use it on our teardrop and r-pod trailers, not mounted just portable leaned up or set on top of the teardrop depending on wind. Not sure why the 100W has disappeared from their site. May need to call them! You would need some kind of low cost charge controller. I use Morningstar's Sunsaver PWM and just wired in an 'inlet' for the panels on both trailers so it can move between them. Not sure how much the windshield is going to knock down the output of the panel, but it will.
    6 250W Renogy panels / Morningstar TriStar MPPT 60 charge controller / 8 Costco CG-2 batteries @ 24V / Samlex PST-1000-24 inverter / Samlex SDC-23 24/12V converter and BG-60 LVD / Midnite Solar boxes, breakers, etc.
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